Review: The Alloy of Law

“‘Wayne’s a little attached to that hat,’ Waxillium said. ‘He thinks it’s lucky.’
Wayne: ‘It is lucky. I ain’t never died while wearing that hat.'” ~ Brandon Sanderson, Alloy of Law

Alloy of Law (Wax and Wayne #1) by Brandon Sanderson
383 pages
Published by Tor, 2011
Genre: Fantasy
Re-readability: I don’t know if I’ll reread it any time soon, but this book was a ton of fun, and I won’t be giving it away.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed by Pete
Spoiler-free review

I’ve read eight Brandon Sanderson novels, and one novella, and loved them all. I try to read him sparingly since his books are almost a guaranteed hit for me. Since I’d been in a bit of a reading slump lately, I allowed myself to begin the second Mistborn series, rather than jumping into Malazan or Wheel of Time as I’d originally planned.

Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn books are set on the world Scadrial, which has multiple magic systems used by its inhabitants. His goal with these books was to visit a world at many points in its history. The first Mistborn series is set in a dark, Napoleonic-France-esque world, and this second series feels more like 1890s London or New York. It’s been 300 years since the events of the first Mistborn series, and its characters are now a part of history or religion. Trains and electricity have just become commonplace, and an industrial revolution is in full swing. In some ways, Scadrial is unrecognizable. But in others, it’s a natural development for a world filled with cities, ideas, and magic.

Alloy of Law introduces Waxillium Ladrian (or Wax), a Lord in the city of Elendel who has left behind a vigilante life in the Roughs. At his side is Wayne, his former vigilante cohort who specializes in disguises and convincing impressions. Neither of them have adjusted to city life and long to fight crime once more, but Wax knows that he owes it to the people of his district to raise funds for his house. His solution? A practical and passionless union with Steris, an awkward and intelligent woman from a wealthy house with little notoriety. The marriage will benefit both families, but it is postponed when Steris is taken by the Vanishers—a mysterious criminal syndicate that has been “vanishing” entire train cars of goods and kidnapping women.

And so the legendary crime-fighter is very unreluctantly brought out of retirement to save his future wife. Aiding him in this mission is Steris’s young cousin Marasi, who is clever, educated, and more than handy with a rifle. It should be noted that Wax and Wayne are gifted with two types of magic, allomancy and feruchemy. They have specific skills that combine to allow for impressive (and often gun-slinging) feats of magic.

While this book lacks the complex plots of the original Mistborn series, it’s a heck of a lot of fun. Like all Brandon Sanderson characters, the cast is memorable and dynamic, and the dialogue is great. The action scenes are generously scattered throughout the book, and they are filled with gunpowder, explosions, flying bullets, and magic. It’s over the top in a different way from any other Sanderson book I’ve read, and I love it.

Some readers may find the book’s conflict underwhelming compared to the scope of Sanderson’s other works—there is no saving the world or overthrowing empires, yet. But it’s still suspenseful and filled with a few (somewhat predictable) twists.

Though it’s far from my favorite Sanderson book, The Alloy of Law is still a blast. I was very happy to discover that I already purchased the second book at some point. It won’t be staying on my TBR shelf for very long.

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